Monday February 6,2012
By Tom Morgan

CHILDREN do not have the concentration to read a dickens novel, a leading writer claimed yesterday.

As the country prepares to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the author’s birth, Claire Tomalin, acclaimed biographer of Dickens, said: “Very simply, he is, after Shakespeare, the greatest creator of characters in English.”

And she decried the state of modern teaching for ill-equipping children with the attention span required to read his classic, but lengthy, books.

“Today’s children have very short attention spans because they are being reared on dreadful television programmes which are flickering away in the corner,” she said. “Children are not being educated to have prolonged attention spans and you have to be prepared to read steadily for a dickens novel, and I think that’s a pity.”

Dickens, Ms Tomalin said, with his depiction of an unfair society was still “amazingly relevant”.

Very simply, he is, after Shakespeare, the greatest creator of characters in English.

“You only have to look around our society and everything he wrote about in the 1840s is still relevant the great gulf between rich and poor, corrupt financiers, corrupt MPs, how the country is run by old Etonians, you name it, he said it.”

Events to mark dickens’s birthday on Tuesday include a street party where he was born in Portsmouth, and a wreath-laying ceremony at Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey

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